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Darwin Correspondence Project

From James Buckman   10 October 1864

Bradford Abbas, | Sherborne. | Dorset.

Octr. 10. 1864.

My dear Sir,

I am sorry I have not an old book by me with the note you ask for on planting Kidney Beans1 but I may just give you the Gloucestershire directions for sowing this crop though in all probability you have heard it before— When the Elmen leaf is as big as a farding | ’Tis time to sow kidney beans in the garding | When the Elmen leaf is as big as a penny | You must sow your beans if you aim to have any.

I always went by this rule on the Cotteswolds which made me about a fortnight later than the vale of Gloucester, at Cheltenham say—

This rule guided me at my new residence at Bradford Abbas this year2 & I think the difference in climate may be represented pretty nearly by saying we sow K. beans On the Cotteswolds the 1st. week in May | In the Vales— the 3rd week in April | In Dorset & the South the | 2nd week in April.

These Rhyming directions I hope you will conclude are by no means bad as they are at least climatal.

I am as above for a few years with a nice residence & farm— I have an experimental garden—3 Can I help you at all in any pursuit

Hoping you will excuse my thus troubling you | I am yrs very truly | James Buckman

Chas. Darwin Esq.

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘p [‘24’ del]   [‘32’ del]   p. 40 Kidney Beans’ pencil


See letter to Gardeners’ Chronicle, [before 8 October 1864].
Buckman had recently resigned from his post as professor of geology and botany at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, and had moved to Dorset (see DNB and Sayce 1992). CD subscribed to one of the testimonials presented to Buckman on his retirement (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from H. E. Darwin to Thomas Warner, 14 October [1863] and n. 3). For CD’s earlier correspondence with Buckman, see Correspondence vol. 6, letter to James Buckman, 4 October [1857]. Buckman is cited in Variation regarding experimental work that he carried out on food plants during his professorship.
Buckman farmed at Bradford Abbas, Dorset, until his death in 1882 (DNB).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Sayce, Roger. 1992. The history of the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Alan Sutton.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Sends a poem about sowing kidney beans.

Letter details

Letter no.
James Buckman
Charles Robert Darwin
Source of text
DAR 271.6: 1

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4631F,” accessed on 18 January 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12